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Literature and Ideas



The Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce

A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.

A king there was who lost an eye
    In some excess of passion;
And straight his courtiers all did try
    To follow the new fashion.

Each dropped one eyelid when before
    The throne he ventured, thinking
'Twould please the king.  That monarch swore
    He'd slay them all for winking.

What should they do? They were not hot
    To hazard such disaster;
They dared not close an eye — dared not
    See better than their master.

Seeing them lacrymose and glum,
    A leech consoled the weepers:
He spread small rags with liquid gum
    And covered half their peepers.

The court all wore the stuff, the flame
    Of royal anger dying.
That's how court-plaster got its name
    Unless I'm greatly lying.

Naramy Oof